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Abstract

The rigidity of materials in conjunction with the aspect of elasticity has been a concern of modern technologies and construction in recent centuries because of the advantages that expandable storage would bring to the fields of containment units with respect to population growth and space exploration. The world population is currently growing at an exponential rate, and as our population grows, the more important it will become to have containment units that can both contain large volumes of material as well as minuscule amounts of material without wasting space. In order accomplish this, we will need a new type of storage container that utilizes the inherent strengths of both flexibility and rigidity to find a unique balance between the two. The purpose of this study is not to necessarily find the final answer to the question of expandable storage, but to narrow the range of questions that later research will use to finally answer the question, “How will we do it?” In order to research the utility of elastic material in creating storage devices in the same manner as has have described, this study would create an expandable backpack as a scaled-down case study. The backpack utilizes grooved panels made of lightweight, rigid material such as PVC-plastic in conjunction with elastic cloth, made of a mix of nylon and spandex, to create a container that will stand rigid on its own, but also expand in horizontal directions so that it can hold objects larger than its original volume. By creating male and female connectors in the individual panels, the container will be able to stand rigid, but also expand using elastic cloth sandwiched between the halves of each panel. The front and back of the container will be made of two panels, but the sides will be made up of 4 panels, so that expansion is more likely to occur in those directions, as well as lessen the stress on the fabric. In order to create the container, the team sampled multiple ratios of nylon-to-spandex, as well as tested the rigidity of different woods and plastics. Upon deciding on a material, PVC, a prototype was built and tested. The testing process involved filling the container to with varying amounts of weight, such as textbooks and laptops, and having a test subject walk around carrying the objects for varying amounts of time. The study also tested the amount of volume the backpack is able to expand, aiming for between five and ten percent increased volume. While the purpose of this study is not to solve the problem of expandable storage definitively, the concept of elastic cloth between interlocking panels has a high likelihood of being a step in the right direction.